Just 28 percent of Americans plan to shop in a store on Black Friday, according to a survey commissioned by Bankrate and compiled by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Internet-deals bonanza Cyber Monday was even less popular, with only 25 percent of consumers saying they planned to shop online Dec. 1.
“Consumers are becoming conditioned to expect really deep discounts very often,” says Michael Norton, co-author of “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending” and a professor at Harvard Business School. “It’s training people to wait even longer” to buy presents.
While some people are holding off, there are others who are shopping earlier. A few years ago, retailers started opening on Thanksgiving Day in an effort to win a bigger chunk of Black Friday business. Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sears, Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney are among the retailers planning to do so again this year.
These early sales are driving traffic away from traditional Black Friday and Cyber Monday events, says Trae Bodge, senior editor at RetailMeNot.com. In fact, 25 percent of consumers pegged Thanksgiving as their favorite shopping day as part of a survey it conducted earlier this year.
David Bakke, a 48-year-old Norcross, Georgia, resident, learned just how popular Thanksgiving sales were when he attempted to shop on the holiday in 2013.
“I tried to get into Wal-Mart and that was just complete insanity,” he says. Rather than weather the crowds, Bakke went home, rested and then decided to try his luck again the next day.
“I was stunned at how few people I saw,” he says. “The stores were dead on Black Friday because everyone had gotten everything done on Thanksgiving night.”
Early sales, too, aren’t limited to Thanksgiving. Some retailers are already offering Black Friday promotions. Wal-Mart, for instance, started featuring “Rollback” prices on more than 20,000 items Nov. 1. Over at Office Depot, every Monday has been Cyber Monday since Nov. 3, and Target is hosting a special Black Friday pre-sale Wednesday, Nov. 26.